Competition Judges

Kip Evans

Award-winning filmmaker, photographer, and explorer Kip Evans has led or participated in more than sixty expeditions throughout the world, including recent assignments in Antarctica, Costa Rica, Chile, Mexico, and the Galapagos Islands. In 2008 Kip joined Mission Blue as the Director of Photography and Expeditions, documenting “hope spots,” critical areas around the world’s ocean that need protection. As a photographer, he has worked on dozens of National Geographic Society projects since 1998, including the five-year Sustainable Seas project where he spent over 300 hours diving submersibles at depths down to 1,800 feet.

Kip’s images have been featured in hundreds of books, exhibits, travel guides, advertisements, and magazines worldwide including, Alert Diver, Huffington Post, National Geographic Magazine, Patagonia, Outside, Rolex and Coastal Living to name a few. He has been a photo expert with National Geographic’s expeditions program since 2006. As a cinematographer, Kip’s films have been featured at film festivals around the world and he has shot for several natural history networks including National Geographic, PBS and Discovery Channel. His Mission Blue documentary, “Isla Holbox – Whale Shark Island,” won best non-broadcast documentary at the 2010 BLUE Film Festival. In addition to his photography experience, Kip has worked as a naturalist and an educator for the National Marine Sanctuary Program.

As a diver and submersible pilot, Kip holds a number of certifications including PADI Scuba Instructor, Diver Medical Technician (DMT,) and Scientific Research Diver. Kip has also logged nearly 4000 hours underwater, mostly during research and photographic expeditions, including a 17 – day assignment where he saturated at the Aquarius Habitat as part of Mission 31. From 1996 – 2008, he served as a volunteer rescue swimmer and diver with the Pacific Grove Ocean Rescue Team. In 2002 he received a commendation for saving the life of a young teen that had been swept out to sea.

Kip was recently honored as the 2017 Ocean Champion by the San Francisco International Ocean Film Festival for his work in ocean conservation.

Kip graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1990, with a degree in Environmental/Marine Studies.

Staffan Widstrand

Multiply-award-winning professional photographer, based in Sweden. Author of 18 books in 9 languages. A National Geographic Explorer and a Nikon Ambassador.

He has led or been involved in leading several long-term media and conservation communication projects (Wild Wonders of Europe, Wild Wonders of China, Wild Wonders of Taiwan, Rewilding Europe, the Swedish Ecotourism Association, Scandinavian Big Five, Ajunngilaq).

Partner in photo travel agency Wild Nature Photo Adventures.

Frequent judge in leading international photo competitions, including “World Press Photo” and “Wildlife Photographer of the Year”.

Called one of the world’s “Most influential nature photographers” by Outdoor Photography magazine (UK).

Managing Director and co-owner of Wild Wonders International.

Greg Lecoeur

Native from Nice, on the French Riviera, the Mediterranean Sea put its spell on Greg during his childhood – developing his interest in marine biology and his desire to explore. After finishing his business studies, he joined the family company and then launched his own venture in the neighbouring state. When he wasn’t working he went diving. The sea became a devouring passion. He collected scuba diving certificates, invested in technical diving equipment, discovered underwater photography and accumulated lots of miles…

It is his passion to be under water and photographing the marine life to be able to show it to those who have to stay on the surface as well as to the enthusiasts of diving and underwater images.

At 32 years old with the Diving Instructor certificate in his pocket, he left his comfortable life, sold his company and took off to realise his dream. One year around the world with his underwater camera. He explored the Americas: The adventure began with the Galápagos and then continued to Ecuador, Florida, Bahamas, Honduras, Yucatán, Baja California, California, Hawaii and British Columbia …

When he returned to France, he shared his impressions and images through french and international magazines. Since then, he is fully living his passion whilst traveling the Blue Planet presenting the underwater world through his own eyes and his style of photography. By capturing unexpected scenes of marine life, he is seeking to catch the attention of the general public in order to raise awareness of the fragility our ecosystems and the preservation of biodiversity.

His portfolio was rewarded in 2015 by a gold diver at the Festival of underwater images of Marseille. During 2016, he was recognised internationally at prestigious photographic events and his images were awarded and exhibited in four corners of the planet. In December 2016, National Geographic named him “Nature Photographer of the Year”.

Greg is an ambassador for Nauticam and Aqualung brands who support him during his adventures.

Hannes Lochner

Hannes is a multi-award-winning photographer who has been a professional wildlife photographer since 2007.

He has always been fascinated by the arid regions of southern Africa, and the Kalahari was on top of his list. His name is synonymous with the Kgalagadi in general- and leopards in particular.

Hannes has produced three magnificent photographic collections, two of which were dedicated entirely to the Kalahari. To achieve this, he lived in the Kalahari for five years, where he spent hundreds of hours capturing inspiring images of this captivating landscape and its enigmatic inhabitants.

Hannes has an extraordinary talent for composition and his wizardry with light allows him to create photographs that communicate the essence of the animals and landscapes telling their story. It is his passion for the art that enables him to stand out as a master in an era where photography has become everyman‘s game. It is his mastery of the art that enables him to continually create photographic volumes that one simply can‘t overlook.

Hannes has been recognized internationally receiving several awards over several years from the prestigious BBC‘s Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year, and Natures Best Awards -competitions. Also a great number of his photos and articles have been published in both national South African press as well as in well known international publications.

Joanna Lentini

Joanna is an award-winning photographer, writer, and filmmaker based in New York. Like many kids who grew up in the 80’s, Joanna spent the better part of her childhood outside, exploring. She loved being outdoors in nature. With a move to Southeast Asia in 2009, Joanna took her love and fascination of the natural world to new levels when she began scuba diving. There, she fell deeply for all things ocean-related.

Expanding on her love of the outdoors and exploration, Joanna has been a part of several expeditions to the Arctic to help raise awareness about climate change; and she has co-led trips to the Sea of Cortez and Antarctica. Joanna has documented coral bleaching in the Maldives for the film Chasing Coral, has had the opportunity to explore all of the Great Lakes underwater in a 24 hour timeframe with the Sedna team, and spent the same number of hours below the waves in the Florida Keys.

Most of Joanna’s work has focused on conservation issues, outdoor adventure and underwater photography. Her images and writing have appeared in various print and online publications including Oceanographic, Sidetracked, Scuba Diving, Sport Diver, Dive Photo Guide, ScubaDiver AustralAsia, ScubaDiver Ocean Planet, and Matador. Joanna is also an ambassador for Nauticam underwater housings and the COO of the non-profit organization Oceans in Focus.